Livelihood of studio owners, photographers at stake

R. Raja, who runs a photo studio at Vilacheri in Madurai, says that there have been no new wedding orders for the past three months and customer footfall has drastically reduced due to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. This has forced him to take up minor welding work.

“It has been around 10 days since I reopened my studio, but there is hardly one customer every day. Hence, I also do minor welding work, in addition to my studio, so that I can pay my rent and electricity charges,” he says.

Like Mr. Raja, many photo studio owners and professional photographers are struggling due to the absence of grand weddings and functions in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown.

M. Israel Charles, who runs the G.R. Mani Studio at Puttu Thoppu, says that there have been numerous challenges and hurdles in the functioning of the studio. “Through the years, we have changed from black and white to colour photographs and have turned completely digital now. But, compared to these changes, the COVID-19 crisis is unique and more challenging,” he says.

Most of the pre-booked orders for grand weddings were all cancelled, he says. “Since the lockdown, most weddings have been a low-key affair with the participation of very few family members. But, many families click pictures using their smartphones. Few families who choose professional photographers opt for low-budget albums. This hardly fetches us any profit,” he adds.

B. Veluchamy, who runs a studio in Sellur, says that only a handful of customers come to his studio for passport size photographs. “Since there is not much work, I have called only three employees to work,” he says.

The lack of orders for photographers and videographers have also affected digital labs and professionals who were involved in digital designing and editing, says V. Babu, who runs Express Digital Lab and Studio at Tallakulam.

Many individual photographers and videographers who have borrowed money for purchasing equipment were finding it difficult to repay their dues during the lockdown, says A. Karthikeyan, a photographer.

One way of revival of business would be to allow functions at wedding halls with safety precautions, says P. Barathan, a member of Tamil Nadu Video and Photographers’ Association. “Financial assistance must also be provided for the professionals until the revival of the business,” he adds.

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